Theories of political behavior, as an aspect of political science, attempt to quantify and explain the influences that define a person's political views, ideology, and levels of political participation. Theorists who have had an influence on this field include Karl Deutsch and Theodor Adorno.
Long-term influences on political orientation
There are three main sources of influence that shape political orientation which creates long-term effects. Generally, the primary influence originates from family. As stated previously, children will often adopt their parents' ideological values. Some theorists have argued that family tends to be the strongest, most influential force which exists over the lifetime; one essay has credited the majority of the student activism of the 1930s to the influence of parents.
Secondly, teachers and other educational authority figures have a significant impact on political orientation. From as early as age 4 up until 18, children spend about 25% of their time involved in educational processes. Post-secondary education significantly raises the impact of political awareness and orientation; an October 2004 study of 1,202 college undergraduates across the United States showed that 87% of college students were registered to vote, compared to a national average of 64% of American adults. A study at Santa Clara University also showed that 84% of students there were registered to vote. Also consider that childhood and adolescent stages of personal growth have the highest level of impressionability.
Thirdly, peers also affect political orientation. Friends often, but not necessarily, have the advantage of being part of the same generation, which collectively develops a unique set of societal issues; Eric L. Bey has argued that "socialisation is the process through which individuals acquire knowledge, habits, and value orientations that will be useful in the future." The ability to relate on this common level is where the means to shape ideological growth.
Short-term influences on political orientation
Short-term factors also affect voting behavior; the media and the impact of individual election issues are among these factors. These factors differ from the long-term factors as they are often short-lived. However, they can be just as crucial in modifying political orientation. The ways in which these two sources are interpreted often relies on the individuals specific political ideology formed by the long-term factors.
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